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Class of 2024: Ready to take on the world, even during a pandemic
Incoming freshmen (from left to right) Janet D'Alessandro and Alexander Sutton are preparing to start at FIU.

Class of 2024: Ready to take on the world, even during a pandemic

Our newest Panthers share how they’re ending high school strong and preparing to start at FIU during the pandemic

April 24, 2020 at 2:00pm

High school seniors across the country are experiencing a year like never before.

Proms have been canceled. Plans for celebratory trips have gone out the window. Virtual graduation ceremonies are the talk of the town. And getting ready for college no longer involves campus tours or in-person student orientations.

“This is going to be a vastly different year for all of us, but that doesn’t mean we’re tossing out all traditions or giving up on our dreams,” says Jody Glassman, director of University Admissions. “It means that we have to find new and different ways to get there.”

The Class of 2024 is up for the challenge. These Panthers are grabbing their lap tops, reviewing their admitted student checklist and preparing to start their next adventure at FIU.

Class of 2024

Janet D’Alessandro is wrapping up her senior year at Cutler Bay Senior High School and is excited to begin her studies at FIU this summer.

Months ago, she had expected to go to prom and senior field day. She’d also been planning to attend the FIU Admitted Student Day on campus with her friends. And she’d been looking forward to making new friends and hanging out at FIU during freshman orientation. She can’t do any of those in-person anymore.

But she’s not letting that keep her down. She’s keeping the big-picture in mind.

“I’m just grateful that my family is healthy,” she says. “Of course, I’m bummed about missing some things, but during these times you really have to have a positive outlook. I’m grateful that my family is healthy, that I’m healthy. We’re all alive.”

The devastation caused by the coronavirus came close to home for D’Alessandro.

“I know someone personally whose mother is sick in the hospital with this virus and has been in the hospital for a week and a half. I’m just very lucky that I’m not in a worse situation. I’m actually in a great situation. I think about that every day.”

There may be more technology involved to attend student orientation and there may be some ambiguity about what things will look like, especially when meeting with an academic advisor via Zoom or figuring out how to get involved with student organizations. But D’Alessandro is keeping everything in perspective. 

“We’re going to get through it,” she says. “We’re going to have a great freshman year. We’re going to have a great time in college.”

Alexander Sutton, who will be starting at FIU in the fall, agrees.

He’s not focusing on the missed opportunities either. Instead, he’s using the extra time he’s found during remote learning to strengthen his skill set, organize projects and prepare for college.

A member of the Coral Gables Senior High School’s Model United Nations (MUN) team, Sutton recently participated in a virtual MUN conference and even decided to organize his own virtual conference with some of his classmates.

“There was this void where MUN used to be,” he says. “We can still do MUN even during the pandemic. We’re just doing it over Zoom, instead of in person. People aren’t letting this quarantine ruin everything. We’re finding ways to do it, even if it’s not the way we expected we would do it.”

During the summer, he’s also planning to learn coding skills with the goal of creating a social media app to help Model UN students keep connected.

His next goal: to land a spot on the university’s award-winning Model UN team (ranked No.1 in North America), and, of course, to start at FIU.

“I’m excited,” he says. “Even though the [social distancing-virtual events] situation isn’t ideal, we’re making the most of it. I’m just proud to call myself a Panther. Obviously, nobody thought what’s going on now was in the plan. But however long this pandemic goes on, it has to end at some point. There is an end in sight, even if we can’t see it yet.”


If you’re part of our new Class of 2024, and wondering how you can start connecting with your Panther family and get the information you need to prepare for your FIU career, check out these resources.

University Admissions

The Admissions team is offering a number of virtual events to help the newest generation of Panthers kick off their journeys at FIU on the right foot, including info sessions called “virtual visits” as well as virtual student panels, which feature a Q&A with a group of current students.

On April 25, the Admissions team is also inviting all admitted students to join in a special celebration: Virtual Admitted Student Day. Admitted students can sign up for virtual sessions that review next steps for them and will feature reflections from current students, tips on how to get involved and information about the Honors College.

You can also explore FIU through the virtual campus tour below.

Orientation and Family Programs

The Orientation and Family Programs team is continuing its usual two-part orientation program, with a twist. Since last year, the first part of the orientation experience has consisted of informative video modules students complete at home. That portion is continuing as normal throughout this time. The second part – usually in-person and on campus – will now be conducted during Zoom orientation sessions.

Students will get to learn about their core curriculum, choosing classes, finances and other important information. They’ll also get to interact through Zoom with a group of fellow new students and a peer advisor. Likewise, they’ll meet with academic advisors through Zoom to help them as they choose their first set of classes.

These Zoom orientation sessions will begin on May 18. For more information, visit the Orientation and Family Programs website.

“Orientation is the one space where students get the opportunity to be introduced to the university,” says Korrin Stanek, director of the program. “Having an orientation program is really important to make sure students know what’s available to help them succeed.”

Fun fact: You’ll still get to learn the FIU fight song through orientation. (That’s the song we sing when we’re ready to show the world everything we’ve got to offer).

The Orientation team is also working to organize a special orientation program that will be available for parents and family members soon. The team and its Panther Camp student facilitators, Stanek adds, will also be ready to deliver the Panther Camp experience, whether in-person or virtually.


If you have questions about financial aid, contact the OneStop office.